Capsized kayaker rescued in Sedar Bay

Stacey Flood via Daily Mining Gazette First responders from Ahmeek Fire Department make it to shore Saturday with a stranded kayaker, in hat, while rescue kayaker Andrew Taivalkoski trailing in the orange kayak pulls the man’s kayak behind him.

SEDAR BAY — One kayaker’s misfortune was canceled out by some snowshoers’ good timing Saturday.

A kayaker spent about 20 minutes in the water off Sedar Bay Saturday afternoon after his kayak capsized, according to the Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Department.

A group near the mouth of the Black Creek River after snowshoeing on the Black Creek Sanctuary Trail, was picking rocks and taking photos.

“It wasn’t even a minute-and-a-half that we heard someone yelling, ‘Help,'” said Stacey Flood. “We looked at each other like ‘What the heck?’ We thought someone was playing a joke.”

It wasn’t immediately clear where the voice was coming from, since the kayaker was hidden behind an ice floe, said Melanie Rossi, who was also one of the snowshoers.

“He hollered the second time, and then we saw him,” said Rossi, who estimated he was 700 to 800 yards out.

Flood called 911 at 3:12 p.m., she said. She was also on the phone with the Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie and the Bootjack First Responders. While Flood was calling first responders, Rossi and others were yelling out to the man to reassure him.

“We were hollering back and forth,” she said. “We were telling him that help was on the way.”

The kayaker also received assistance from Andrew Taivalkoski, who lives nearby.

Taivalkoski paddled out with his own kayak and pulled the stranded kayaker onto the piece of ice. The Ahmeek Fire Department rescued him later in the hour after finding a canoe on the beach, cleaning out the snow, and paddling out to the iceberg, Flood said.

Upon making it back to shore, the man appeared to be in shock and was shaking, Flood said.

However, he was able to talk with first responders.

“We could hear them laughing a little, and that was a good sign,” Flood said.

The Keweenaw County Sheriff’s Department had no information on the kayaker’s identity or condition Monday morning.

It was fortuitous timing for the group of friends, also including Heather Clements and Diane Beauchamp, which often goes snowshoeing or hiking. They had originally planned an outing near the Gratiot River.

“Had we gone to our original destination, we wouldn’t have been there. Period,” Rossi said. “We just happened to be in the right place at the right time.”